Queensland Literary Awards 2015

The Queensland Literary Awards for 2015 were announced late last week and I am very honoured to have been selected as runner-up for the Young Writers Award, in the 18-25 category. My story ‘January Days’ can be read for free on the State Library of Queensland website, as can the winning entry ‘Surface’ by Grace McCarter, the Young Writers Award winners in the 15-17 category and all the commended entries. You can also see the full list of winners for the Queensland Literary Awards here.

For once it was an event I could actually end up getting to and it was a fantastic evening! There’s always a particular vibe when a large number of writers occupy the same space, like they might start bending reality any minute. (Also the after party happened at the State Library on the Queensland Terrace, which has walls decorated in teacups like something straight out of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.) I had the chance to meet the lovely Kathleen Jennings and Angela Slatter, and acquired several new titles for my to read list. I’d like to offer a big thank you to the State Library and everyone involved in putting on the event!

In other writerly news, FableCroft have released the gorgeous hardcover editions of Cranky Ladies of History for general purchase and are running a Goodreads giveaway for two copies of the book. It’s open until November 15th.

Updating an update

I used to put actual effort into titling my updates but my brain is currently occupied elsewhere (there are witches involved, untrustworthy roads and arguments about what constitutes civilisation, it’s demanding a lot of mental space) and this is very brief, so, well, watch out for the day you get ‘Update Squared’.

Ticonderoga’s anthology Hear Me Roar has recently released its e-book edition. You can find it here on Amazon and also on Smashwords. I gave an entirely undignified squeak of delight when I read this review of the anthology, including lovely thoughts about my story, from Juliet Marillier. While we’re on the subject of e-books, FableCroft’s digital only collection Focus 2014: highlights of Australian short fiction is scheduled for release on the 30th of this month. More information about that will go up on my Publications page when I get it.




The Wild Girl in the Wicked Wood

The Australian Women Writers Challenge, as you may know if you’ve been reading this blog awhile, is a project that promotes the work of Australian women across all genres. 2014 has been my second year participating and this time I signed up to the Franklin level, which meant I had to read at least ten books and review at least six. I also planned to find more books through reviews on the AWW Challenge blog.

Of the eleven books I ended up reading, just over half were speculative fiction, four were historical fiction and one was contemporary. To my delight, I managed to find three fairy tale-inspired works for the Challenge – Allyse Near’s bewitchingly bitter concoction Fairytales for Wilde Girls, Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab’s collection of retellings The Wicked Wood, and Kate Forsyth’s exploration of a real-life tale-teller, Dortchen Wild, in The Wild Girl. Juliet Marillier’s Shadowfell also draws on British folk lore as part of its worldbuilding and though Ruth Park’s My Sister Sif is really more science fiction than fantasy, it uses mermaid stories and Pacific Islander legends. The vampire element, meanwhile, had representation this year with The Blood Countess by Tara Moss and The Amethyst Curse by Chantelle Thomson.

The Wild Girl contains just a trace of fantasy, but I think it’s more accurately classified as historical fiction. Other books in this genre I’ve read in 2014 include Kimberley Freeman’s Ember Island and two Kate Morton novels, The Secret Keeper and The House at Riverton. While all three of these contain contemporary subplots, the only 100% contemporary novel I’ve read this year was Anita Heiss’s Tiddas. As a Queensland girl, I’m not accustomed to seeing my home state represented much in fiction and always get a kick from an insider reference – Ember Island, The Secret Keeper and Tiddas all have Queensland as a setting.

I would like to count Tansy Rayner Roberts’s serialised space opera Musketeer Space, a genderswapped reinterpretation of Alexander Dumas’s classic The Three Musketeers, but that would kind of be cheating as she hasn’t finished writing it yet. At the time of my posting this, she’s up to Chapter 30 and I am SO HOOKED. There’s swordfights and spaceships and ever so much snark, and all of the story so far is available for free on her blog. Go get addicted too!

Then, of course there are the books to which I’m lucky enough to be a contributor. My stories have appeared in four collections this year, all of them with Australian small press, all compiled by fantastic female editors. Ticonderoga’s steampunk anthology Kisses by Clockwork was edited by Liz Grzyb, Twelfth Planet Press’s Kaleidoscope by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios, Tehani Wessely produced FableCroft’s fairy tale-themed Phantazein and The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2013, edited by Liz Grzyb and Talia Helene, was released just last month. Until I started selling short stories I knew almost nothing about Australian small press – like how AWESOME it is, and how much fun all these people are to work with. I feel so very honoured to be a part of all these works.

So that’s my challenge completed for 2014. It’s been an adventurous year for me as a reader and a wonderful one as a writer. Roll on 2015!

An Update of November Squee

Cranky Ladies logoEarlier this year I participated in the blog tour for Cranky Ladies of History, a FableCroft anthology themed around historical women who lived memorably unconventional lives, and now I’m thrilled to confirm I’ll be part of the book! – or more accurately, Queen Elizabeth I of England will, via my story ‘Glorious’.

As my first historical fiction, this is particularly exciting for me! I have always admired Elizabeth enormously, as a woman who not only survived to adulthood in the misogynistic powder-keg of Henry VIII’s court but rose to the highest position of power in the land and held onto it until the day she died. She will be appearing with a superb company of monarchs and pirates, poets and warriors. Some I already know amazing things about – others I can’t wait to meet. Updates on the anthology will appear on the FableCroft website, while all the posts of the blog tour are collected here. Cranky Ladies of History is set for publication in March next year.

An Update of the Surprising and Fantastical

Publishing news! I will no longer be appearing in FableCroft’s new anthology Insert Title Here; my story ‘Twelfth’ will instead be published in a surprise spin-off collection called Phantazein, which is slated for release in October of this year. It’s very exciting! Also, Ticonderoga’s anthology Kisses by Clockwork is now officially out in the world and on my shelf – look at all the pretty!

'Kisses by Clockwork'

‘Kisses by Clockwork’

Kaleidoscope, the third anthology of the year featuring my work, is set for release next month, so brace for further updates!

A Corner of White to Lighthouse Bay

At the beginning of the year I signed up to the Australian Women Writers Challenge. To meet my chosen level, the Miles, I had to read at least six books by female Australian authors and review at least four. Just for the hell of it, I added a mental note: they couldn’t all be speculative fiction.

The result is a list of books that have alternately intrigued, annoyed, charmed and definitely challenged me. Almost all fell outside my usual comfort zone.

The majority, of course, were either fantasy or science fiction, but even those stretched me; neither Margo Lanagan’s sinister fairy tale Sea Hearts nor Meg Mundell’s dark Australian dystopia Black Glass were easy reads, while Pamela Freeman’s Ember and Ash was traditional fantasy, which I’ve drifted away from in recent years. Even Tales from the Tower, a collection of fairy tale retellings edited by Isobelle Carmody, was full of confronting surprises.

Also included on the list are two works of contemporary/women’s fiction – the intergenerational murder mystery Poet’s Cottage by Josephine Pennicott and family saga Lighthouse Bay by Kimberley Freeman – plus a biography, Memoirs of a Showgirl,by Shay Stafford. None are books I’d normally gravitate towards; all gave me fresh perspectives into unfamiliar worlds.

Then there are the books I’ve read but not reviewed. Tehani Wessely of FableCroft Publishing released the anthology One Small Step in May, while Liz Grzyb edited Dreaming of Djinn for Ticonderoga and co-edited The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror with Talia Helene. As I have stories included in all three, I’m not exactly impartial, but they are collections I’m delighted have on my shelf and some less biased reviews can be found here and here. To everyone who said nice things about my stories, you are lovely and it was very much appreciated!

I am proud to have worked with such talented women, and proud to be a part of this industry. The stories I have read this year have been vastly varied, intelligent, and original. They are stories that should be told, and read, and talked about. I don’t really believe in the idea of ‘the great Australian novel’, because that means something different to everyone, as it should. This country is too big to be contained all inside one book. To encompass it all you need a library, an ever-changing map of stories, overlapping, interlocking, with signposts to guide us from reassuring waters to alien depths and back again by the scenic route.

I’m not done with my Challenge yet. My To Read list for 2014 includes books by Patricia Wrightson and Kate Forsyth, Kate Morton and Kimberley Freeman, experimenting with authors already known and admired, and those as yet unknown. That is, after all, the point of the Challenge: to start looking for these authors, and not stop.

There are remarkable women out there telling stories that should be heard. And I have reading to do.